Ok, so February is cold and miserable, a great time to stay in and keep that spending to a minimum... Here are some sites I recommend to get the creative juices flowing in terms of cutting back:
Spending Diary - Use this free useful site to track your daily spending. That's the muffins, the magazines, the extra glass of wine, the chocolates and more... by the end of the month you will finally know where it all goes and can cut back!
By cutting back on buying lunches for work last year I have saved around £30 per month, or £360 per year. If someone came up to you today and offered you £360 in cash to make your own lunches at home, would you do it? How about if they offered you £104 to stop buying chocolate and therefore be healthier? Magazines would be £160 in your pocket if you read them in the library or Borders instead of buying them... not to mention greener for the planet! We will all have different ideas on what our limit would be - try to re-define yours.
Volunteer4Panels - If you are accepted, this cashback-type site enables you to accrue points which you can then turn into high street vouchers. We save these for Christmas or clothing, very handy and only takes a few minutes per week. All you need to do, is tell them each week what clothes/cd's/beauty products you have bought and you will earn at least £1.50 per week if you do this.
MoneySavingExpert - Of course, I wouldn't even have this blog if it were not for the great Martin Lewis - we've truly turned around our spending since finding this site. The forum is particularly useful and so insightful, to learn from so many generous people that share their tips and hints. I have learnt so much and we have made many changes - we now try to give back on the forums and this blog and pass it on...
Take the chance to review things and prepare for the coming year - what are you aiming for? What real goals would you like to achieve by the end of the year? What small steps can you take now, so that in a few months you are closer to them?
We have a few in mind and have been talking about the small stepping stones, an example is only going out to a meal once per month. This could be seen by some like something we could cut out, but one meal per month at around £25 (less if we use buy one get one free vouchers etc) won't break the bank and it helps us avoid take-aways etc the rest of the month. Plus it means we save gas & electric at home one night per month by not cooking, not washing up and not having the tv/computer on... we can catch up with eachother properly and have some quality time.
So in these troubled times with so much talk of recession / depression we all need to get planning now, see what sites we can all join to help save or make cash... Here's to the year ahead and us getting through it all together.